Hosting Mozilla services with Stackato

September 04, 2013 at 03:07 PM | categories: Mozilla

Many people have written custom web services related to Mozilla projects. Cool! However, many of these services live on random hosts scattered around the internets. These hosts can have frequent downtime, cost Mozilla contributors time and money to operate, and can be hard to discover and trust (I don't want to give my LDAP credentials to a non-Mozilla server).

Did you know Mozilla operates a Platform-as-a-Service (PaaS) infrastructure that allows Mozillians to host web services and daemons on the internets (similar to how EC2 works). Until recently, I didn't either!

If you are a Mozilla employee, learn more about (To non-employees, unfortunately it appears you can't use this yet. And I'm not sure what the plans for that are.)

This service is actually a Mozilla-hosted Stackato instance. You set up your client with your LDAP credentials, provision services such as PostgreSQL, memcache, MySQL, etc and deploy applications - either web applications or standalone daemons. The runtime environment supports nearly everything under the sun - Python, Node.js, Ruby, Perl, PHP, Java, etc. You write an application, drop a few files in the project to describe how to deploy it to Stackato, push it, and it just works. Web applications even get an HTTPS endpoint with a valid root CA chained certificate!

I recently used this service to power my Django-based automation-dashboard project. Aside from the initial hurdles figuring out how Django works (this was the first Django project I've written) and how to hook Django up to Stackato, I'm pretty impressed with the results. Free web hosting with database access!

For me, the selling point of this service is that apparently the transition plan from Stackato-hosted service to IT-managed service is relatively pain free. Since you must perform all the steps to isolate/package your application for Stackato, it's relatively easy for IT to deploy your application.

I encourage Mozillians to look into using this PaaS service for their Mozilla service hosting needs.